Okay, let’s start with a three diva mix: get Grace Jones ‘Pull up to the Bumper, Eurythmics ‘Sweet Dreams’ and Sadé’s ‘Smooth Operator’. Alright, ready? Mix… ignore the clashes, that’s natural. They’re just getting to know each other. Okay, likee?
I want you to create this ungodly union of chanteuses, because I want you to think about desire. No, not Desiré – she’s been laid up with a cracked pipe. I’m talking ‘bout desire, fool. Let’s start with Grace Jones’ ‘Pull up to the Bumper’, by way of laying out the first principle: if you’re gonna want something, it has to be within range. Does anybody want the moon? You can try, but you’re not going to be able to use it, have it or be it. But we’ll get to that. Point is, (s)he has to be in firing range if (s)he’s gonna pull your trigger, dig? You have to be able to pull up to the bumper, baby, if you’re gonna drive it in between. In the same way, how much does seeing a beer in a hand, a cigarette in a movie or a hand in a glove make you want to ‘get all up in that’? Isn’t that what’s so dangerous about eBay, that it brings things that would otherwise be unobtainably ‘far’ (even if they’re in the garage next door) into the minimum desireable distance?
But the thing about all these triggers is, they fool you. There’s real wisdom in that Tiga song… seriously. ‘I know, you’re gonna want me/but when you want me/it might be, a different story.’ It’s true. You see your object, and suddenly you think you want it. See a beer, want a beer. No problem. But no. In most cases you don’t want ‘the beer’ you just want satisfaction (and like Mick Jagger said…) And the closer you get to enjoying your object, the less you care about it – does the man who is already inches into his melon give two hoots about the bruised feelings of the fruit? Likewise, we see smoke, we think we want smoke, but the closer we get (and once we get lit), we don't want smoke, we want the satisfaction we get from it. We want nicotine. You can take this thought for a walk in all sorts of disturbing directions…
So much for things you want to use. Yeah, okay, there are things you want to ‘have’. Nobody wants to ‘use’ a painting or a rug. Ever heard of a rug user? That’s ‘cos only losers use rugs. Point is, some things you mostly own. For inanimate objects, this is usually unproblematic – neither a knife nor dildo cares whether you stick them on your mantelpiece or into your neighbour. So having or owning ‘things’ isn’t a problem. But people are different – and this is where it gets tricky. We use each other as objects, but we expect to be taken as, well, people – subjects. You might just ‘use’ your boyfriend, but he wants you ‘be’ with him. Or ‘have’ sex ‘with’ him (as opposed to just do it to him). The Spice Girls ‘Wannabe’ is a whole pop song dedicated to this fundamental confusion. They sing ‘If you wanna be my lover’, but in actual fact, what they want (what they really, really want) is to ‘Huh, I wanna huh’, ie, use their lover. If the usin’ is sweet, then, and only then can we talk about having their lover. First the dildo, then the dinner date, then you can share your wad, and maybe even bare your soul.
In some intimacies, this object to object relationship is a no brainer boner – beat sex is the quintessential example. But even then, talk to a withered old queen whose wild yesterdays have given way to teary moments and solitary crying jags while listening to Frankie’s ‘Power of Love’ and you’ll see – you might have been young and thought you just wanted to use ‘em, but you found out, all too late, that you wanted to have ‘em. Nothing’s lonelier than a pillow you have to bite all on your own. So what’s to be done about this… ?
The moment you step foot in any bar or club, it’s a muddy thing, desiring people. You pick ‘em up to satisfy your objective needs (cue Eurythmics). ‘Some of them want to use you/ some of them want to be used by you/ some of them want to abuse you/ some of them want to be abused’ and so forth. But then they call you, and want dinner. Your object gets all icky and ‘human’ on you. One minute you’re frequenting the booty clubs, the next four years you and somebody's daughter raisin' y'all own young'n as Outkast might say. So she pumps a few out… then she pumps your best friend, and leaves you with the kids, a thank you note, all her Sadé CDs and a suspicious discharge. Smooth Operator indeed. The humpire (ex hump turned vampire) strikes back. You then discover very quickly that you thought you wanted to use her (you wanna Huh, you wanna Huh), but actually, you needed to have her. She thought she wanted to have you, but actually she just wanted to use you. And now, there are these little things called kids, who in a very real way are you…. dear, oh dear.
What’s the solution? Well, you can just do as Pulp Fiction’s Vincent Vega advised: ‘Go home, jerk off, and forget all about it.’ In this way, you’re being, using and having yourself in one convenient flick of the wrist. When you think about it, it’s one of the only possible ways of having an intimate human relationship with very little chance for misunderstanding or objectification – but then again… what if you end up thinking it’s more than just a little romancing the bone? Who are you going to blame? What if it’s crap? What if you’re horny… and you won’t put out? The breakup could be Bobbitlike in its horrors. Hmm, maybe there is no solution. So just remember kids, remember. Keep your eyes open, and your ears. Listen very carefully to her Sadé records, before you end up owning them, along with the harpie’s herpes and little baby Grace. And if you end up hearing ‘to have and to hold’ when all you wanted was ‘to use and to lose’, don’t let me say I told you so. Wise man once say: those who go out planning to use objects may all to easily become a used object themselves.
Originally published in Inpress, March '07
© Peter Chambers 2007
in which the naked chimp is unmasked, his machines debugged, and his bugbears debunked
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